The author once called the EDC X9 “the best pistol ever made,” but could the Wilson Combat SFX9 be even better?
In January of 2018, an article appeared in these pages with the title, “The Best Pistol Ever Made.” I wrote that article and it was about the then new Wilson Combat EDC X9. I believed what I wrote then and have stood by those words ever since. In fact, I believed it so much that I convinced several shooters to buy an EDC X9. How did I do that? I just let them shoot mine. Now, four years later, I’m having to reevaluate that opinion.
For 2022, Wilson Combat introduced a 4-inch, 15-round version of their SFX9. The SFX9 is slightly different from the EDC X9. Where the EDC X9 has a grip frame that accepts grip panels, the SFX9’s grip frame, similar to modern polymer pistols like the Glock, is solid. In fact, SF stands for “solid frame” and, with this 4-inch, 15-shot version, Wilson Combat now has three solid frame SFX9mm pistols: there’s a 3.25-inch, 4-inch and a 5-inch.
So, how different are the 3-inch EDC X9 and SFX9 pistols? With the EDC X9, you can remove/replace the side grip panels or grip scales. This is accomplished by depressing a release at the bottom of what would be called the mainspring housing on a conventional 1911. Once this release is pressed, the backstrap swings up and out of the way, allowing access to the mainspring and sear spring. With the newer solid frame SFX versions, there are no grip panels to remove. With the exception of the pivoting backstrap, the SFX9’s grip is a monolithic unit.
The only other differences I noted between the EDC X9 and SFX9 were the slot spacing on the accessory rails and the sights. With the SFX9, the accessory rail slots were a bit closer together. As for the sights, the EDC X9 comes with a Wilson Combat elevation adjustable Tactical rear Battlesight and the SFX9 comes with a fixed rear, Wilson Combat Concealment Battlesight. Other than that, the guns seem identical and use the same magazines.
Small, But Significant
So, why am I questioning my earlier opinion? There are three reasons.
First is the fact that the grip of the SFX9 is thinner by 0.164 inch. That’s not a lot, but for some hands it might matter. The second reason is that the SFX9 doesn’t have an adjustable rear sight, which is—arguably—just another part that can break. (For what it’s worth, I’ve never seen an adjustable rear sight on a Wilson Combat pistol break.) The final reason isn’t the most or least important, and in fact, if you can afford a Wilson Combat handgun, it’s probably of no consequence. That said, the SFX9 has a suggested retail price that’s $100 less than the EDC X9. Of course, in today’s world, a hundred bucks will buy nearly 300 rounds of 9mm ammunition, and that’s important.
What it really comes down to is how the gun feels in your hand, and this is something that’s frequently overlooked. User interface can be directly linked to shooting performance; if a gun doesn’t fit your hand comfortably, you’ll not shoot it as well as you possibly can. The flat-sided Glockish feeling grip frame of the SFX9 might very well fit your hand better than the more rounded EDC X9 grip. If you’ve been a Glock shooter and like the way Glocks feel in your hand, this is almost a given. I’ve never liked the way a Glock felt in my hand, so it should come as no surprise that I prefer the more rounded grip of the EDC X9.
In my 2018 article, I wrote that the EDC X9 could’ve been the result of a ménage à trois among a 1911, a Browning Hi Power and a Glock 19. I wrote that because the EDC X9 is a single-action pistol with a straight-pull trigger like the 1911. It also has the manual thumb safety of the 1911 and the Hi Power, but like the Hi Power, there’s no grip safety. And finally, the EDC X9 was sized almost identically to the Glock 19 and shared the 19’s and the Hi Power’s high capacity. I carry a Hi Power a lot and felt that from the standpoint of feel, the Hi Power was the dominate partner in this three-way creation. That’s not the case with the SFX9. The way its blocky grip feels in my hand, I immediately think “Glock.”
SFX9 Vs. EDC X9 On The Range
I couldn’t resist the urge to continue the comparison of these two handguns on the range. They’re so similar, and with what’s at stake so important, they’re just begging to go head-to-head. My standard defensive handgun test drill is what I call the Forty-Five Drill. I call it that because it’s made up of four elements of five. With it, the goal is to draw from the holster and hit a 5-inch circle, at 5 yards, five times, in less than 5 seconds. It sounds easy—but it’s not. Trust me when I say many police officers can’t conduct this drill to standard on their first or second attempt.
I ran this drill 10 times with the EDC X9 and 10 times with the SFX9, alternating between pistols after each run. My average time with the EDC X9 was 3.09 seconds, with 47 hits out of 50 shots. My average time with the SFX9 was 3.05 seconds with 45 hits out of 50 shots. From a practical perspective, there was no difference at all in how these handguns performed for me. I also shot the SFX9 a lot more after that test, which given the availability of ammunition nowadays isn’t an easy thing to do. Combined with some other ammo I had on hand, I fired 450 rounds through the SFX9 without as much as wiping it down … and I experienced no stoppages.
I would like to offer one other observation between these two pistols: My EDC X9 is outfitted with a green fiber-optic front sight. The SFX9 came with a red fiber-optic front sight. Though while based on the range results there seemed to be no difference at all between the two, I felt that the red fiber-optic sight was twice as easy to see as was the green fiber optic sight—in all lighting situations. Take that for what you think it’s worth.
Bill Wilson believes the SFX9 is the best personal protection pistol offered by Wilson Combat, and who am I to argue with Wilson? The thing is, I like my EDC X9 better because it feels better in my hand. Of course, I should say that I carried a Glock for 13 years as a police officer and never liked the way the damn thing felt. It’s a matter of personal preference, and understating this opinion is coming from someone hopelessly in love with the Browning Hi Power should help explain my position.
However, I’d bet that many younger shooters, especially those who grew up with a Glock but always wanted something better, will think this new SFX9 from Wilson Combat is nothing short of marvelous. I wouldn’t argue with them, either.
If you and I were walking down Fremont Street in Tombstone, Arizona, toward a vacant lot near the O.K. Corral, to face off against the Clantons and McLaurys or even some modern-day hoodlums—and if the only two guns we had were a SFX9 and an EDC X9—I might ask for the one with the red fiber-optic front sight, but I’d be happy with either gun. I believe the EDC X9 and the SFX9—4-inch/15-shot handguns—are the two best self-defense handguns ever made. Pick the one that fits your hand the best and you’ll be able to feel confident your money has been well spent.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the 2022 USA Special issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
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